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Claim against mother's estate

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  • #31
    Just been speaking to my solicitor about this to find out what was going on.

    He said that he's at a standoff with the solicitors of my late mother's partner - they won't reveal what his expenses are until we agree to their amendments on his terms and conditions for living there as part of his life interest.

    I'm meant to be seeing these terms and their amendments in due course - they will be trying to lower standards for the upkeep and extending the time between inspections, and objecting to an independent surveyor assessing the house for me, or me removing my mother's belongings.

    As for the fees, I agreed to pay his to date in March, but my solicitor says this is a tactic to sneak in any expenses beyond that.

    Just hate this situation - it's me that has to manage this going forward with whatever is agreed. Any advice welcome.

    Comment


    • #32
      Hi Roger1Moore,
      They are playing games. I think your solicitor is right, they will hold out and hold out until the eleventh hour in the hope that you cave and agree to all their demands. It may backfire on them, either leaving it until it's too late to finalise an agreement or the Court ultimately taking a view and them losing out as far as his costs are concerned. Your solicitor's point about them trying to sneak all costs through is probably correct.
      A life interest trust would usually state the person with the interest will be responsible for upkeep and insurance although I would be cautious of leaving him responsible for the insurance bearing in mind his games so far! You've probably already dealt with this so apologies if repeating things already sorted.
      Is your solicitor suggesting you tough it out? Is there any area that you would be willing to compromise on so that it appears that you are being the reasonable one but doesn't make the situation going forward too onerous for you?
      I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

      Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

      If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

      Comment


      • #33
        Thanks Peridot, I actually just received the revised terms and conditions a short while ago. Not much has changed, they are just refusing to budge on stuff.

        It still makes me laugh that he insisted his life interest be extended from 80 years to 125.

        I asked my solicitor to bump up the part about the insurance - saying that he has to comply and keep me informed on certain dates, and I reserve the right to buy a policy and ask him to reimburse me if the one he buys is inadequate. All of that's still in there.

        The bit I'm really concerned about is where it says "he is not expected to keep it in any better condition than it was on the date of my mother's death". I find that too vague. Anything broken he could say was already broken back then. I suggested, and my solicitor agrees, that I pay for an independent surveyor to go in, make an assessment, and that's the standard we use. I don't think that's unreasonable at all. It gives clarity to him too.

        Also he says I can inspect every two years, but it's gone downhill after just 18 months. I said I'm prepared to go to two years if he can show he can look after the property, but I have concerns - one of which is trusting him.

        So they aren't budging on those things.

        If it reverts back to court without an agreement, how might it play out? Would it just be a court session based on the terms here? I wantit to be over with, but I also want to protect myself - he just wants to set the bar so low that he'll never have to pay anything.

        Comment


        • #34
          Hi,
          In my opinion I don't think you are being unreasonable in what you have requested. As with any litigation it does depend to a degree how the judge feels on the day but as you are the trustee there has to be some protection for you. This is a life interest trust not a gift after all.
          Your solicitor does seem to have the measure of them and has made sensible suggestions so far it seems. Think what things you would be prepared to give some wiggle room on (not that I think you should!) just so that you appear the most reasonable.
          Rather than a surveyor what about him allowing access for photos? I would prefer a surveyor personally just so you are aware of the issues there are. You know he'll try and get out of anything!
          Gird your loins and ride the storm may be all you can do and see what the Court decides. Of course the Court won't have sight of the offers which is a bit of a pain but your solicitor should ask for certain things in the order which appear reasonable. If he kicks up a stink it won't help his cause.
          I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

          Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

          If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

          Comment


          • #35
            Hi there, so this is all still dragging on. I could do with a little more advice.

            Where it's up to, at the end of April the court was informed that the legal case brought against me by my late mother's live-in partner, claiming ownership of her house, would be resolved through a written agreement between both parties where I award my mother's partner a life interest. That's it, no litigation or mediation now, as far as they're concerned it's all sorted.

            So my solicitor and my mother's partner's solicitor put this document together. The solicitors are happy with it, and I think it's the best it can probably be under the circumstances. A big concern from my side was protecting myself from any liability, as I don't trust this guy at all, it's clear to me that the condition of the house has deteriorated since my mother's death, and I don't want anything to happen that can cause me an issue with the neighbours or the building insurance, seeing as it's my name on the house.

            As a result, we included a clause so that within the first six months of everything being signed off, I get to send in an independent surveyor who assesses the property - any major issues that would cause a concern, if there are any, are fixed there and then, paid for by him, as the upkeep is his responsibility. I also get a detailed analysis of the house, and that's the benchmark for the standard going forward. Both sets of solicitors thought this was a reasonable request, so it went in.

            That was the end of April. I was told my mother's partner would go in the following Friday to sign it and... nothing. He had to cancel, he was too busy. Again the following week, and the following...

            Now I think the solicitors are done chasing him for a while. I'm going to have to get back onto this in the coming weeks, and ask my solicitor what to do.

            In my view, this can't really be tactics anymore, can it? What does he stand to gain? I know he doesn't want to be answerable to me, and he's probably worried about what the surveyor will come back with, but how long does he think this can go on for?

            The solicitors also need paying, but it's not a big payday now for either, as they just sent each other some emails and wrote a document. In the last few emails I've been forwarded from my mother's partner's solicitor, it seems they are losing patience with him and want it resolved. He did make the process difficult by not being truthful with them, which did waste their time earlier on.

            Should I now be considering my own legal case against him and look to evict him on the grounds of being unreasonable? How would I fare in those circumstances? I don't understand how or why he would want to live like this, he is effectively a squatter with no rights at all.

            Comment


            • #36
              Hi Rogermoore1,
              He has nothing to gain from this other than to irritate you further!
              Have the terms of the agreement been confirmed in correspondence between the lawyers (not the Life Interest document itself)?
              It may be that your solicitor needs to contact his and make the threats so to speak. His lawyer may be getting fed up with him but they are still instructed I assume? Maybe a threat to make a court application and a claim for costs against him will do the trick and focus his mind! You don’t have to follow through with it but it may be sufficient to get a signed document and his solicitors will advise him of the various risks if he doesn’t finalise things.
              He’s probably sore that he’s not getting his way no doubt having been advised of the risks should he not deal sensibly, and just wants to be an irritant! Sure it will get sorted soon.
              I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

              Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

              If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

              Comment


              • #37
                Thanks Peridot - I just got an email from my solicitor.

                His solicitors have come back wanting two changes to the agreement - 1) That the land registry be informed that the property is now subject to a life interest (apparently that's standard), and 2) That I pay the buildings insurance and he reimburses me, rather than he be made to pay it and find a policy that I approve of. I'm okay as long as I have assurances he will pay me back - at least it takes the worry away that the property won't be insured at any point.

                I can't believe it's taken two months for them to come back with just that - I suppose between him being so busy (allegedly) and them being fed up with him, that's what I'm dealing with now.

                He is really irritating me. I'll come back for advice if I hear anything else.

                Comment


                • #38
                  At last it seems to be moving and as you say at least you can decide on the insurance. Maybe he could leave a sum with the Solicitors to transfer once the policy is purchased?
                  It may not be possible but worth asking.
                  I also wouldn’t allow the document to fail because you’re sticking on this issue. It is better to know the property is insured and has been set up as a life interest trust correctly than arguing further in my opinion.
                  Hopefully things can move on now. You know there will probably be issues down the line with maintenance no doubt but it can be sorted as and when.
                  Hope all gets signed and finalised soon.
                  I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                  Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                  If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                  Comment


                  • #39

                    As her long term partner, he may be able to bring a claim. However, the time limits are quite strict. Usually, unless the Court allows it, any claim should be within 6mths of the Grant of Letters of Administration being issued. When did you get the Grant?

                    As far as his paying half the bills/mortgage etc that does not in itself give him any 'rights' to the property. He would have to demonstrate that a trust had been created There are several types of trust including where people have contributed to the purchase of a property or carried out major works themselves believing they were going to receive a share. It is a technical area and my examples are very simplified but needless to say the fact someone contributes to bills and the mortgage does not in itself mean they are entitled to a share. It would also be for him to prove that a trust had been created whether expressly between him and your mother or implied through their actions.

                    It appears that you have been reasonable in offering he stay at the property but that you remain the owner. As your solicitor has suggested a written agreement may be the most sensible way forward. Maybe mediation could help, although he doesn't sound the most reasonable of people!

                    If we can give you any more pointers do post again but it sounds like your solicitor also has his number so hopefully you are receiving sensible advice.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      So where it's at now, the Tomlin Order is going off this week, and I've just sent over my signed version of the declaration of trust - apparently I need to do it in person for the final thing, but a scan is okay just for the exchange.

                      The Tomlin Order says I'm paying his fees until March, which I knew anyway - thing is, they won't reveal what those fees are... still. This was something I mentioned a while ago. Is there any advantage in them doing this? I can't see how. I can see they might try to lump a few more onto me that came after the date, but my solicitor says we get an itemised bill and he can question it. I suppose it's the only card left they have to play.

                      But we keep asking, they say yes, then nothing, not even a ballpark figure. My solicitor has given me an idea of his fees and says theirs should be much less, as he has done more work. Originally they were banking on getting money my mother had left me as well, but that wasn't part of the estate - the estate is just the house and a few grand she had in her account, so with the Part 36 offer we did I'm entitled to sell the property and release the funds for his fees that way.

                      I think that's what it all means. Just wondered if they keep holding off, if there was any advantage.

                      I did wonder if things like asking for the life interest to be extended to 125 years, or asking for things to be included that are a given - like telling the land registry - were all delay tactics, as they don't know which way I'm going to jump when I find out what the fees are.

                      Is it still a case that I should just concentrate on getting the deal in place so it's one thing off my plate?

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Hi,
                        Still with the games! I would be concerned about their fees. However if they are excessive you should have a way of questioning them and potentially have the court assess costs if needs be. More money again of course but check this is possible with your solicitor.
                        With the Trust what happens to the property if he dies before the 80/125 year point?
                        Not sure what you mean by the pt 36 consequences and selling the property? What does the draft order say?

                        I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                        Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                        If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Hi there, my solicitor said we should wait and see with the fees. He says it comes itemised and we can check it, and he said to me before that no court would make me pay from my personal savings, so I guess having them review it would be a possibility.

                          Apparently the solicitors we're up against have a reputation for upping costs to try to intimidate the other side. When I confronted my mother's partner about all of this back in February, the last time I spoke to him, he said he had spent £8,000 in fees so far, which is more than my total bill from my own solicitor. That's a month before where I'm due to pay up to. He doesn't use a computer or email, so all information has to be given to him over the phone. He's not the easiest person to explain things to either, and can be really stubborn if he doesn't understand something.

                          It says in the deed that "the trust period" means the period of 125 years beginning with the date of this deed and determining with the death of the life tenant. Later it adds "the rights of the tenant in the trust fund may not be assigned, sub-let, transferred, passed on or alienated in any way and are for the personal use and benefit only of the life tenant".

                          Then something that my solicitor put to his with the Part 36 offer back in February - "Your client now needs to consider whether he wishes to accept the offer to live at the property with the further legal costs, or downsize so that the estate is able to provide him with a home which it can afford. Either way, the effect of you client continuing this action will be to diminish the value of the life interest he is now being offered. We can't see that this benefits our client any more than it benefits ours."

                          The estate has the £200k property, plus £7,000-ish left. There was more but I used it to pay for my mother's funeral and to pay off the mortgage on the house. So the expenses look like they will be more than £7,000, and it's a question of where that money comes from. I was under the impression I'm in my rights to sell if I need to, and this draft deed wouldn't change that?

                          Really wish it would all just go away.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Glad the trust deed sorts out what happens when he goes. Once the deed is in place, depending on the wording, there will only be certain circumstances you can sell or purchase a less expensive property for him to remain in.
                            I assume if he messes up and doesn’t get things done that need doing you have the right to end the life tenancy?
                            Your solicitor seems to have their measure. They will have to be robust in arguing the costs from what you say but they have sorted things so far.
                            I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                            Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                            If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Thanks Peridot, that's reassuring. Yes, it's clear on how and when it ends (with his death), and that it can't be transferred, so why bother to extend it to 125 years?

                              There's wording in there on looking after it to a level I'm happy with, and also dates and deadlines for me and him on when I have to alert him about the building insurance, when he has to pay it by, notice on visiting for inspections, and so on. The circumstances on selling the property and moving him are if he requests and if I agree it's a good investment - but it's a modest house, not in great shape, he'd be very limited on what the estate could afford to move him to, so I'm not expecting it to come up. The surveyor I've got going in will set a standard - I accept he won't keep it in great condition, as he's not capable for various reasons, but I want to make sure it won't cause an issue with the buildings insurance or neighbours.

                              Have to see what comes back on costs I suppose.

                              Comment

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